Monday, November 14, 2016

The Money Diaries: Day 5

5:47am -- Because I am CRAZY, I wake up at 5:20am every Saturday morning to work a 6am-10am air shift at my radio station. The saving grace in this is that I don't have to get ready. I go to the bathroom, rinse my face with cool water, get dressed, grab some breakfast, and head out the door. I consider a quick Starbucks order, but skip the coffee this morning... sometimes it hypes me up too much and I talk too fast on the air... oops! Today I pack a GF bagel with cream cheese, pear, and apple sauce for breakfast. I have to be careful what time I eat because otherwise I will be starving by the time I get off at 10am.

8:03am -- I have eaten my bagel and apple sauce. I am eyeing my pear, but making myself have restraint. During the election on Tuesday night I needed a distraction... A local news station posted a live Facebook video of puppies at the Oakland Animal Shelter. They showcased a 5 month old blue nose pit bull named Lincoln (my husband's favorite historical figure). Now he's determined to bring Lincoln home with us. So I am researching dogs at that shelter to find out if Lincoln has been adopted. If he has, we might head to Mountain View to check out a 14 week old boxer pup named Jo Montana (my husband's favorite 49er player - do you see the connections?!). Dog adoptions aren't cheap, but I've been keeping about $300 tucked away in my underwear drawer for just  such an occasion...

9:16am -- I was texting my mom this morning and it looks like my dad wants to come over and do some prep work for our housewarming party. I just found out from the Oakland Shelter that Lincoln was adopted on Thursday and is on a plane headed for Idaho so he can run and play on a farm with his new family. My heart is sad, and I know my husband will be bummed. But the shelter volunteer that was messaging me said their are 2 other similar dogs that need homes. Once I hear from my husband we will make our plan and figure out what we're doing with my dad today. I hate waiting...

10:37am -- I am home from work and my husband and I have agreed that we are not going to Oakland today. I can't find any definitive information about where Jo Montana might be shown today. Instead, I see that her brother will be available for adoption at Petsmart in Mountain View. I get ready and we head over there.

11:45am -- We stop at In'N'Out for lunch first. I order the old standby: a Double-Double Animal Style with no pickles, Protein Style (wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun), with fries and a lemonade to drink. My husband pays with his debit card. $17.73

1:04pm -- The adoption event was a bust. The Jo Montana  wasn't there, and a woman beat me to her brother, Amos. I ask about how to find out where Jo Montana might be, and they advise we go to Humane Society Silicon Valley and speak with someone about her.

1:32pm -- We walk into the shelter and as we are standing in line to talk someone at the adoption desk, a pink wire pen catches my eye. There's my girl, in all her fawn-colored glory. I abandon my husband and walk over to her. I ask a barrage of questions to find out she IS available, and talk to the foster human to learn more about this fun girl. She loves to play, but when she's done, she wants to be where you are. She's already socialized a bit, and sleeps in a crate. She "marks" her humans by shoving her nose in your face/neck/chest/hand/leg, etc. She's the sweetest.

2:28pm -- My husband signs his name on the dotted line as Montana and I sit  at the adoption desk cuddling. She was not cheap, but she is worth it. It seems no one has wanted her so far. Boxers sometimes have a bad stigma, and people that have looked at her recently haven't wanted such a young puppy - she's not quite 13 weeks. We pay cash with the money I've been saving for us to adopt a dog. Her fees include spay, microchip, all vaccines up to this point, a $125 deposit for puppy training, and a puppy guide. Even though she can't be on the ground and I have to carry her out, we have to buy a collar and leash in order to leave with her. $227.46

4:07pm -- We are home and Montana is pooped! She has had a ton of activity today. After we adopted her we went to Petsmart to get the rest of the supplies we need to give her a good life: crate and crate pad, puppy chow, potty training treats, food and water bowls. My husband pays with some cash he's also been hoarding for my Christmas gift. Looks like Montana is going to be my Christmas present.. I am A-OK with this!

6:22pm -- Time for dinner. My husband asks for Chinese food, so I order some chow mein, pot stickers, and Mongolian beef from our old standby: $24.85

Daily Total from our Bank account: $42.58
Daily Total from cash saved: $227.46

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Money Diaries: Day 4

7:16am -- I woke up at my normal time, 6:30am, and went about my routine, but a bit different. I go to the bathroom and have my shower, but sit in the living room and watch the news for a while because my husband is still in bed since he has the day off. My on-air boss texts me about my shift for Thanksgiving weekend and we negotiate whether I need time off to go down to Oceanside to potentially meet our new niece (if she makes her debut early). We come to an amicable agreement and she compliments me about my presence on-air. It gives me a little validation that I didn't totally know I needed.

8:53am -- I skipped my regular breakfast at home, so I choked down a protein bar at the office. I decide I need coffee so I venture to the kitchen to make an iced mocha to find that someone has used the rest of the creamer I brought in last week... I use powdered cream and just deal with it. As I walk back to my office I catch one of my bosses in the hallway and we start chatting and joking around with another coworker. By the time I get back to my office it's after 9am, so I get started on my tasks for the day.

12:17pm -- We go out to lunch almost every Friday. One of my bosses is staying behind so she can get things finished because she wants to leave early today. My other boss is leaving straight from lunch. I had suggested my husband meet us, but since we're not going to a big lunch out, I don't call him. The 4 of us head to a local shopping center with tons of options for a quick lunch. I go to Poki Bowl with one of my coworkers. I order a large (4 scoops of fish), 1/2 brown rice 1/2 mixed greens, salmon and ahi, avocado, crab, masago, and green onion. It's delicious, but my eyes are bigger than my stomach and I can't finish all the rice, but I make sure to eat all the fish, since that's the best part anyway. $13.03

3:27pm -- I take off early since my husband is at home. I told him I would try to get off a little early so that we can go to Home Depot to get a few things we need to prepare our house for a housewarming party we are hosting next Saturday.

6:07pm -- We have effectively spent more than 2 hours wandering around Home Depot. It begs to be mentioned that I HATE Home Depot, and the reason he asked me to go was so that I could choose the color roses I wanted. We didn't look at rose bushes, and we certainly didn't buy any! But, he did purchase the saw he's been wanting, some blades, and some materials to fix a step that leads from our kitchen into the patio room. He pays with his a gift card and his birthday money. The remainder sets us back about $85 - though I don't know the total because he paid with cash that's left over from our vacation. At this point, I'll call it a wash since the money didn't come out of our account and I didn't even know he had cash...

8:46pm -- He strategically chose the Home Depot in Campbell so that we could go to Hooters for dinner. Before we bought our house we ate dinner at Hooters pretty much every Friday night. Now we don't really have money to eat out that frequently - we still treat ourselves, but certainly not every Friday. Since my diet is restricted we just have wings, fries, and I order a side salad. The last time I drank beer I had a really hard time (not gluten free), so I stick with water and my husband has 2 beers. I think the bill is around $79, though I can't be sure because he paid with cash again. Knowing him as I do, he tipped our bartender well, so I'm guessing our total was about $100. Again, I had no idea we even had this money, so I'm not counting this.

Day 4 Total: $13.03

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Money Diaries: Day 3

6:23am -- Mornings like today get me a little off track. I get up early and do the regular routine because I have to pause around 7:30am to call in to my radio station for a segment I do every week called "Foodapedia". I chat with the morning show hosts about food and showcase a recipe. This morning I'm asked about bell peppers. I hate bell peppers most ways. So I text my momma for the info on roasting peppers and cooking them down with tomatoes. It makes my mouth water, but I wait until later to have breakfast.

7:41am -- After my call-in, I pour myself some Honey Nut Cheerios and start typing out the recipe for roasted red peppers, and the time gets away from me. I decide I want Starbucks since I found I have money on my gold card. So I stop with the recipe and finish getting ready. I still have to put my makeup on, fix my hair, and get dressed.

8:37am -- I should have ordered my coffee via the Starbucks app before I left the house, but I forgot. So I have to wait in a lengthy line, and the location closest to my office is the SLOWEST ever. My order is  relatively simple: Grande Iced Coffee in a Venti cup, extra ice, sweetened with breve. It doesn't take long to make and I am outta there with just enough time to pull into the parking lot right at 8:30am. But the morning show is doing a really funny bit, so I sit in my car and listen before walking into my office.

10:52am -- Our morning meetings are over and I realize I haven't had any water for the day, just coffee. I fill my water glass and have a few GF crackers before settling in to work on a print ad for the newspaper.

11:43am -- After my boss announces there is a new artist here on his radio tour, I grab my phone and venture into the conference room. Since I share Social Media responsibility, I take video on our Snapchat. I get pulled out the conference room to do another task and when I finish, the artist is visiting in my boss's office. So I sit back down in my office, and start editing a few videos on my phone so I can post on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

12:56pm -- Since my bosses went out to lunch with the visiting artist I join 2 of my coworkers in the big front office for lunch. I brought left overs from Tuesday night and a small container of ratatouille I bought when I went grocery shopping on Monday night. Mixed together they look disgusting, but are really tasty. I finish my apples and peanut butter from Tuesday's lunch, too. I'm not super full when I finish, but feel satisfied.

4:49pm -- It's all of a sudden almost 5pm and I haven't had anymore water or a snack. I make a mental note to only have water with dinner instead of my usual iced tea or 1/3 apple juice 2/3 water.

6:39pm -- For some reason - probably because we're both crazy - my husband and I have engaged in a political conversation. Our views are POLAR opposite about this, but our conversation is kind and fair. I am proud of us. It's later than I wanted, but I start making dinner and my husband lights the grill to cook the steaks I had taken out for Tuesday's dinner.

7:47pm -- While I'm washing a few dishes I remember that our water bill is due. When I finish I open my computer and I log on to pay the water bill. I also check our bank account since my husband got paid today. The mortgage is due, so I set a reminder in my pone to pay it next week. $81.53

Day 3 Total: $81.53

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Money Diaries: Day 2

Day 2

5:47am -- My husband left with out turning off his alarm. Since I'm unfamiliar with the clock he uses, I have to turn the light on and get out of bed to turn it off. After the election results last night, I only got about 5 hours of sleep - and there's no way I'm going back to bed now. I force myself to stay off Facebook. I can't handle the extreme sadness and disappointment, let alone the few gloaters I encountered, right now. Instead, I briefly look on Amazon for Christmas gifts for my nephew before deciding I need to buy myself a present: a "Make America Kind Again" tote bag on Etsy; and in the moment, it makes me feel better... $20.35

7:23am -- Looks like I WAS going back to sleep after the alarm debacle. I slipped off to sleep while watching a feel-good movie (The Way Way Back), and missed my 6:30am alarm. So I scramble around to get ready. Shower, get dressed, and toss some GF raisin bread in the toaster while I'm putting my make up on. I don't have time to get a lunch together, but I have a few things I can eat at work. I eat my toast over the sink, quickly brush my teeth and head out the door just before 8:30am.

9:47am -- Since I was late this morning I jump right in to work. My bosses are away for the day, so I have lots of uninterrupted time to work on some projects. The next thing I know, I'm starving and in desperate need of coffee. I head to the kitchen to make an iced mocha (I rarely drink hot coffee), and buy a fig and peach bar from the vending machine to stave off the hunger for now. $1

1:36pm -- I'm feeling hungry and nauseated all at the same time. I did some research about the president-elect and I can't feel confident in this decision. I snack on some GF crackers because I just don't feel like eating right now.

3:28pm -- After writing my feelings down - and, I'll admit, posting them on Facebook for a bit of validation - I am feeling mildly better. I have worked on a number of projects today and despite not having lunch, my stomach feels a little better. My co-worker brings a smile to my face and presents me with an ice cream cone from across the street. When I offer to pay him, he turns me down, so I drop the money into the Turkey Fund jar to buy Thanksgiving turkeys for the food bank where my mom volunteers. $2

5:08pm -- I leave the office and head to my best friend's house. We made a date to go out tonight on Monday, and after all the feels I've experienced today, I need a drink. She texts me that she's running late at work, I realize I am close to a drive-thru car wash, so I stop in before picking her up. $8

7:33pm -- We eat and sip sauvignon blanc at our favorite happy hour spot in Downtown San Jose while talking politics, disappointment, fear, our relationships, and so much more. I feel better just having been in her company for a few hours. Our total bill is $56.94 with tip. We split it straight across. $28.47

8:12pm -- After leaving the restaurant she asks me if we can visit our friend who is a hair stylist at her salon so she can pick up some product. It's a short drive so I don't mind. Even though I wasn't planning to buy anything, I realize the salon stocks the shampoo and conditioner my husband has been asking for. I grab them and she purchases them for me with her 50% off discount. I get away relatively unscathed when I VenMo her the cash. $14

Total for the day:

Day 2: $73.82

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Money Diaries: Overview | Day 1

Personal and Spending Overview:

Industry: Graphic Design. 

Position: I work at a radio station and wear a lot of hats, but my title - Creative Services Manager - implies that my primary function is to create artwork and manage marketing materials. I also freelance for 2 different organizations, but the money I make there is pretty minimal, and I only get paid every other month. I also work for the same radio station as a part time radio DJ on weekends. 

Age: 31

Location: San Jose, CA. My husband and I just purchased our first home in July.

Salary: Base at the radio station: Under $50,000 annually - Freelance: $250/month - DJ: $10.30/hour (yup, I only make minimum wage). My husband's salary, however, brings our annual income to over $100k. 

Paycheck Amount (bi-weekly): Under $1,400 less taxes and deductions: flexible spending account allocation, 401K deposit, Roth IRA, and health insurance

# of roommates: 1 (my husband)

Monthly Expenses

Mortgage: A LOT. Since this isn't anonymous, I won't be disclosing just how insane our mortgage payment is, but I will say that we opted for the impound account. Which means each monthly mortgage payment includes: Principal, Interest, Escrow (property tax, homeowners insurance, flood insurance, and PMI [mortgage insurance])

Loan Payments: Student loans: $300 - Vehicle lease for my car: $350. My husband's truck is paid off (thank heavens!)

Credit Cards: The minimum payment for all our credit cards is something obscenely low, like $40 each, for a total of $120/month. We generally pay about $200 for each card that has a balance. So $400 right now. 

Financed Items: We had to buy a refrigerator for our new house: $70. We bought a bed last year: $125

Utilities: Pacific Gas & Electric: $65 - San Jose Water Company: $85 every other month - Comcast for cable and internet: $152

Transportation: I live just 3 miles from work, but since my husband has a longer commute, I usually drive my car when we go out. I typically can get by with a tank of gas for 8-10 days. $120/month

Car Insurance: $142 for my leased car and my husband's truck.

Phone Bill: $110 - as part of a family plan with my parents.

Health Insurance: $140 month deducted from my paychecks every 2 weeks. I know this is absurdly low. The president and owner of my company is very generous this way. 

Savings: We used to be excellent at saving, that's how we bought the house. Now, not so much. Aside from my 401K and Roth IRA contributions, we can SOMETIMES save about $200 a month...

Entertainment: I have satellite radio in my car: $24. And of course, we're American, so we love Netflix: $10


Day 1

I grocery shopped at the newly opened Sprouts by our new house last night (which I am including here because I will not grocery shop for the rest of the week) and bought some staples: lunch meat, salad mixes, yogurt, pears, ingredients to make 2 meals, lunch and snack items for myself at work (my husband gets free lunch at work).  I finally splurge on 6 gluten free bagels for $5.99. Not a normal thing for me, but I am on a special eating plan for the time being and I have been REALLY missing bagels (but that's another blog post...) $50.26

6:45am --  Since I wasn't feeling that great last night I try to let myself sleep in. Today it kind of works. I don't need to do my hair, so I go about my regular routine: bathroom, get my outfit ready and watch the news for 10 minutes, and quickly shower. I put my robe on and dig into a gluten-free bagel and sip my water. I do my make up, put my hair up, and get dressed. I am out the door by 8:03am. Some mornings I grab breakfast from Starbucks or Burger King (always iced coffee and a bagel at Starbucks or oatmeal at BK), but since I had time and was craving a bagel, I skip that this morning. Plus, there's a neighbor of mine that puts her cats in shirts, so I had to take a picture to send my best friend. So no time for drive-thru breakfast. 

10:45am -- I have been in meetings all morning. One of them at 9am is standard and pretty low-key. The other at 9:45 is one of my favorites: we listen to a variety of new music and give our input on what we like and don't like, and what we want to add to the radio station. I sip water during both meetings, but by the time we're done, I'm hungry. I grab the trail mix I bought last night and sit back down in my boss's office for a quick discussion about the station presence on social media and how our team can work together to make it better. 

12:45pm -- I meet with my coworkers to eat lunch. I packed lunch meat, cheese, grapes, GF crackers, and an apple with peanut butter. I am full so I only eat a few apple slices and save the rest for later. I finish feeling good about my choices, and the fact that I actually brought lunch to work. 

3:45pm -- My boss calls us in to his office to go over concert dates and other events so we can start filling in our 2017 calendars and plan a big event series we showcase. By the time I finish I realize I haven't finished the biggest project I have today and it's already almost 4pm. I head to the kitchen and pour some coffee over ice with half a packet of hot chocolate mix and some creamer to make an iced mocha and get to work. 

5:20pm -- It's all of a sudden after 5pm and I am still at the office. My husband is stuck in traffic and still needs to vote. He is supposed to grill some steaks for dinner, but I have no idea what time he will be home. Since I only took steak out for dinner, I have to go to the grocery store (WalMart - there goes my plan for the week!) to pick up sausage, French bread, and parmesan cheese. Because I'm lazy, I splurge on already diced onions. Plus, my husband asks me for wine, I also decide I want some apple juice. $19.44

6:55pm -- Dinner is on the stove and my husband still isn't home. I will probably eat by myself if he's not home by 7:30pm because I am starving. 

Total for the day: 

Groceries yesterday: $50.26
Day 1: $19.44

Grand Total: $69.70

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Money Diaries: Preface

So, I regularly read a series called "Money Diary" on Refinery29: a digital media company which brings into sharp focus the latest fashion, make-up, hair style, and life style trends for women in my age group.

The series takes a 7-day diary of a woman's spending habits. Most of them are in their late 20's to early 30's, some have roommates, some live alone, some are married, and they live in varying places, thought most seem to be in New York. Since I have never seen one for the Silicon Valley, and Frank and I just achieved such a coveted goal: home ownership in San Jose, I thought it would be a fun and educational experience to give this a shot.

Starting tomorrow, I will create a simple dialogue based on my spending, eating, and regular activities, which I am able to do based on my salary. These things will include, but are not limited to: Morning Starbucks runs, lunches out with my coworkers, trips to the vending machine, the bottled water I buy at the gas station, trips to Target or Wal-Mart, and unnecessary makeup purchases (because I like looking pretty!)

Additionally, I will divulge a brief overview of our financial situation. Though, because this will be public and I don't quite feel comfortable sharing EVERYTHING, I will simply leave some stuff out.

Why am I doing this and what do I hope to achieve?

I find this sort of project eye-opening and thought provoking. I plan to partake in the remainder this week as I would with or without this experiment. Including an event where I will spend a substantial amount of money on raffle tickets and bingo cards.

I hope to really see what I am spending, and where I can cut back. Also, I just think it will be a fascinating examination into my life.

I hope you'll join me on the journey this week!


Monday, October 17, 2016

Don't Leave Me Behind...

Today is October 17th. Yesterday, Frankie celebrated his 32nd birthday.

And 27 years ago, my world view changed slightly, at the ripe old age of 4.

The large majority of people that will read this are folks with whom I am very well acquainted. Ergo, they will likely read this in my ever-present sarcastic tone. If you happen to have stumbled upon this and have no idea who I am, I implore you to use as much dry humor as you can possibly muster while reading this blog post.

I have recently come to terms with the fact that I have an intense and deep seeded need to be included in everything, ever, in life. I don't like being left out of anything, at all, ever. Not when I was a child, not when I was in school, not at work, not with my family, not ever. Like ever. Did I mention, EVER?! Just, don't leave me out, and don't leave me behind...

Tuesday, October 17, 1989, was a day just like any other in the life of Little Lauren. I likely went to preschool at Challenger School, though I can't be certain. If I did, I'm sure my mother - now fondly referred to as Momma Lynn - picked me up from preschool and fed me lunch.

At some point, we picked up my sister, Colleen, from school. Colleen had a dentist appointment, I remember it as she needed to get a tooth or two pulled. She may say differently. The details are a little hazy...

It begs to be noted that my sister and I were not the recipients of perfectly straight adult teeth as we lost our baby teeth. As only I can put it, I'm sure, we had some fucked-up grills.

Regardless of what we were doing at the dentist, we were there because my sister had an appointment.

We had returned home just in time for me to catch an episode or two of Sesame Street on PBS, and my sister was in the kitchen doing her homework. My mom was making pasta - fusilli, as I recall - while my dad was in the kitchen as well, preparing to come into the living room to watch the Giants play the A's in the World Series.

There I was, rocking away in our shitteously green velvet rocking chair (one which, at some point in my childhood, I would vomit spectacularly all over - but that's another blog post), watching Sesame Street,  when suddenly, the room began to shake and roll rather violently. Let it be said, there was also some rattling...

My dad - now known as Poppa Leonard - being the ever-heroic guy that he is, gathered Momma Lynn and Colleen under his steady arms in the doorway of the kitchen and dining room. This provided a clear and unobstructed vantage point into the living room. Right where I was sitting. There I was... rocking away in that green chair, in the living room. All. By. My. Self.

At some point after the shaking began, and after my whole family gathered in the relative safety of the door jamb between the kitchen and dining room, Poppa Leonard shouted at me to get under the dining room table. I don't remember how quickly I moved. Probably not very fast, as I was, and still am, notoriously slow and lazy, I dove head-long under the dining room table. All. By. My. Self.

The shaking lasted a mere 15 seconds. I don't remember much about how I got out from under the table, or if my family even dared to come and get me, or they just stayed gathered there in the doorway, under my dad's arms... while I lay under the table. All. By. My. Self.

There were countless aftershocks. Despite the fact that my beloved grandparents came over to our house, I was GLUED to Momma Lynn's hip for the rest of the evening. I even stood outside the bathroom while she peed, fearing being left out again.

And thus, that fateful evening in October, 27 years ago, I became irrationally obsessed and afraid of being left out. Thanks for that, guys.

In all seriousness, that earthquake was hell for so many people. My uncle was living in Hawaii at the time. Someone asked him if his family was OK, he turned on the news to see the Bay Bridge collapse. It took hours before he reached anyone to find out that we were all OK.

Many thanks to first responders, good Samaritans, and mothers who lost sleep because their 4 year olds wouldn't leave there side, for fear of being left out. Again.

If you'd like to read more about the Loma Prieta Earthquake - also called the 1989 Earthquake - this Wikipedia article is pretty legit.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

What Good's Love If It Ain't Complicated?

"With both hands on the wheel of a getaway car... From the day we met we were goin' too fast, we were born to run, we were built to last.. All I know is sometimes you love it, sometimes you hate it. But what good's love if it ain't a little complicated? It don't always go just like you hoped it would, but sometimes complicated's pretty damn good..."

In the last 2 months, when someone asks me how things are going with the house, my response is generally something sarcastic like: "Frank's still alive - that's about all I got!"

What I mean is, I haven't strangled or suffocated him in his sleep.

What I really mean is, we're continuing to work as a team while we face the unbelievably difficult and complicated task of preparing a house for our life, and trying to make it our home.

What I really, really mean is, despite the fact that we yell at each other and get frustrated and he acts like a 5 year old and gives me the silent treatment and I get frustrated and yell even louder, we still leave the house with smiles on our faces because this is something we've achieved together. And despite my reticence to ever admit this, I married Frank because, unlike every man that ever came before him, he still makes me feel comforted and content, even when I want to kill him.

Our relationship is unique. That's nothing new. Interact with us for 5 minutes and you'll surely see us bicker and poke fun at each other. I imagine it's entertaining and humorous to an audience. Truth be told, it's pretty entertaining for us, too.

Our relationship is nothing short of complicated. Frank is stubborn, anal, and ridiculous about an affinity of things that seem meaningless to me. But at the same time, I am arrogant, loud, and quick to argue... In fact, I was recently called "vicious" by a stranger. It's a long story, but I was pretty feisty during said encounter... When we fight, like really fight, it's loud and vengeful. And while we learned how to effectively argue with the intent to find resolve, sometimes we just scream at each other and find absolutely ZERO common ground.

I'll tell you that I'm usually the one to concede (and you should believe me, because it's TRUE). Frank might tell you that he concedes more often. But that couldn't be farther from the truth!

So while we love to hate each other, every night that we fall asleep together, or, more accurately, Frank falls asleep and starts snoring and I fall asleep some 2 hours later, I am thankful that Frank's the one I get to hate every night, and love every day.

Afterall, what good's love if it ain't a little complicated?



Our house is getting tented today. And all I can really say is THANK HEAVENS! Our back room has fleas and I have at least 30 flea bites ALL. OVER. MY. FEET. AND. ANKLES. AND. LEGS. and I'm legit dying...

Thursday, July 7, 2016

You Need To Look Elsewhere...

"It just doesn't seem like a winning endeavor for you to buy something in this area."

"You need to broaden your scope."

"Really, you need to look elsewhere. I mean, people commute all the time."

"Have you thought about looking in the Central Valley? My friend just bought a house in Manteca for under $300K."

"Have you considered Hollister or Los Banos? The commute can't be that bad...?"

Have you considered that you probably need to SHUT. THE. F*CK. UP?!

I can't tell you HOW. MANY. TIMES. people told us how ridiculous it was that we were damn near killing ourselves trying to buy SOMETHING in San Jose.

In the beginning, it didn't matter that we were looking at Townhomes. Then we learned there were a ton of struggles with HOA's not accepting the type of loan for which we were approved. So we asked our AMAZING Real Estate Agent, Mary, to include houses, even if they were small, even if they only had one toilet, even if they were 90 years old, even if they needed a little extra lovin.

And so, our search began. Our deadline was drawing closer, as our lease would be up on August 31st. I was growing pretty fearful that we would have to renew and stay in our current apartment. We learned one very important thing during our search: you have to move quickly. Like lightning. Because if you don't, you won't stand a chance.

So here's the story of Lucille. Our 90 year old house, whose keys will get dropped into our eager hands on Friday, July 15th.

On Monday June 13th, I was showing my mom a house that I really like that was on our MLS listing. While browsing the list (let me be clear, there were only 8 houses on the list, and a whole 3 of them seemed habitable...) I noticed there was a new listing, but there was no image. The next day, I logged on to email my agent, and saw that the house I was going to ask about had been moved from active to pending. SHIT! We missed our chance... So instead, I asked about that new listing, the one with no image. The one that sat on a large lot, with only 2 bedrooms and just 1 bathroom.

There was another home that had been listed, in a decent, not good, not bad area, that needed a LOT of work, but that was MUCH cheaper. We met Mary there on Tuesday evening. We learned it wasn't structurally sound, so we walked away. She encouraged us to drive by the house with no image. Check out the neighborhood, and see what the outside looked like.

So we did, and for the next 5 days, I begged her for an appointment to see the house. A "For Sale" sign had not been posted, and there were still workers in the house, but I didn't care. I had to see it.

A full week later, on Tuesday June 21st, we met Mary on North 31st Street at 6pm. I wandered around the small house, and felt like Gramps had done work there, and he was showing it off to us. I stood in the dining room, looked at Frank and Mary and said, "I want it!" That evening, Frank and I discussed what we would offer, and we came to an amicable decision.

Now, let me tell you, I did NOT feel good about this. I loved the house so much, and even though I knew it needed work, I wanted her. I would have done ANYTHING to buy this house. But, I knew there were open houses scheduled for the weekend. And I was 99% sure that someone was going to come in with cash and offer $60K over asking, and our tiny little offer would get washed out.

Wednesday morning, before I'd had a chance to email her, Mary called me. She let me know the seller was anxious to be out, and they had moved the offer deadline. The original deadline was the following Wednesday at noon. Now the deadline was THAT SAME DAY, at noon!

We were ready! Mary completed the paper work, I wrote a letter about us, and at 12:02, our offer was submitted.

At 1:47pm Mary called to let me know our offer had, in fact, been accepted! I didn't know how to react, so I think I almost cried, and threw up, all at once. The house I wanted to much, but was so sure wouldn't become ours, was now more firmly in our grasp.

We went back in to view the house on Thursday June 23rd. As fortune would have it, the seller was there. He was very kind and forthcoming. He detailed the work he'd done, told us the history of how he bought the house, and stood in the driveway talking to Frank for nearly an hour.

On Friday June 24th, I wire transferred half of the money we'd spent the last 4 years saving for the Earnest Money Deposit. I nearly passed out, cried, threw up, and shat my pants...

The following week was a roller coaster with meetings, inspections, and appraisals. The 4th of July came and went, and all I could think about was the idea that we might actually be buying a house. On Tuesday July 5th we met with Mary to remove most of the contingencies.

On Wednesday July 6th, we would learn that the house appraised for more than we offered, and our loan could be funded. We removed the remained of contingencies and entered into escrow. On Thursday July 7th, we learned that we would close on July 15th, just 23 days after our offer had been accepted.

Lucille is old. She's got a lot of termites, her backyard is a shitshow, she doesn't have a proper ventilation system, and she'll need a new roof in a few years. But her walls are a lovely dove grey, she looks like something Gramps would have built, and she reminds me of my childhood home. From the moment I walked through her front door, I SAW US living in her.

Ok, but why is her name Lucille? Ever hear me reference Grandma Lu? Her name was Lucille. She was the source of all my comforts when I was a child. I miss her every. single. day. And since this house seems like something Gramps would have built for Grandma Lu, it seemed only fitting...

Here's the truth: We sought a house in San Jose because THIS is where we live. THIS is where we work.THIS is where our families live. THIS is our home.

And so, we bought a house HERE. Not elsewhere.

Oh, and by the way, our new address is: 259 N 31st Street, San Jose, California 95116.
Say it out loud. It flows off your tongue. And it's almost ours...


Friday, July 1, 2016

We Bought A Zoo...

We Bought A Zoo... Well, not really. In reality, we bought a house. But, there is enough land for me to have chickens, and a goat, and a dog, and maybe a turkey. So we may as well have bought a Zoo. Albeit a petting zoo, but a zoo, nonetheless.

Yup. I said it. We. Bought. A. House.

Except that we haven't. YET.

I guess I should say We. Are. Buying. A. House.

Did you know, that in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, home prices are nearly TRIPLE what they are in similar climates across the nation?

Did you know that the average number of days a house in the San Francisco Bay Area stays on the market is LESS THAN 10?

Did you know that this is a SELLERS market? Because crazy ass people like me and Frank are more than willing to "play the game" and offer obscene amounts of money OVER the list price because, we, like most other married couples in their 30's, are crazy, and want to be property owners.

Did you know that Flood Insurance can ONLY be purchased through FEMA? And you LITERALLY have to jump through hoops to get it? But also, that you can't actually finish purchasing your home UNTIL you have valid proof of Flood Insurance?

Did you know that houses, yes, HOUSES - not townhouses, can be purchased in the San Francisco Bay Area for LESS than $530k? The house might be 90 years old, and need quite a bit of work. But at least it has walls, and a floor, and isn't falling down!

Did you know that Frank and I are crazy? Because we are. Because we are buying a house.

Do you remember when I may or may not have told you that planning a wedding was probably the most stressful and nerve wracking thing I'd ever done in my life, up to that point? Well maybe that was true, UP TO THAT POINT in my life. Up to THIS point in my life, trying to buy a house has been the most nerve wracking thing ever.

And now I'm pretty sure you're reading this saying, SHUT. UP. LAUREN! Tell us about the house/petting zoo you're trying to buy!

Here are a few details of the house we're buying:

- It's located in the "Little Portugal" area of San Jose, CA.
- It is, in fact, 90 years old.
- If all goes as planned, we will close escrow by July 20th
- The garage looks like it might fall down if it rains too hard (I verified with the inspector that this WILL NOT ACTUALLY happen.)
- It has 2 bedrooms and one bathroom - which means there is only ONE toilet
- It has a newly remodeled kitchen (sans dishwasher*) and newly remodeled bathroom
- The texture used on the plaster in the living room and dining room is called "Italian Swirl" (Apparently, there aren't any plaster/stucco workers left in the area that know how to create said texture.)
- When I walked in for the first time, I felt like I was walking into a home Grandpa had done work in, and he was bringing me there to show it off.
- The property is located in a Flood Zone - and apparently, acquiring a quote for flood insurance is an exercise in futility, because every time I think I've supplied what they're asking for, they ask for something additional.
- There's a "Bonus Room" / Screened In Patio in which we will host parties, family dinners, and probably Christmas.
- The walls in the living room, dining room, bedrooms, and bathroom are a lovely dove grey. And my inner interior designer can't wait to bargain shop herself into oblivion buying accessories and throw pillows and window coverings and wall hangings and themed table runners and new Christmas decorations and a wreath for EVERYTHING!

Monday will mark this Nation's 240th birthday. To further demonstrate just how free we really are, Frank and I have exercised the ULTIMATE display of Freedom and Independence...

We bought a zoo, err, a house, err, we ARE buying a house.


Since my new house doesn't have a dishwasher, if you'd like to purchase a house warming present, we'll accept Costco sized bags of paper plates, plastic cutlery, and red party cups ;)